Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On Realignment, UConn, Maui and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 20th, 2012

Brian Otskey is a regular contributor for RTC. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. As someone who doesn’t watch one minute of college football but loves college basketball to no end, conference realignment frustrates me to no end as you might imagine. It’s actually quite depressing and I hate talking/writing about it. However, it’s a relevant story and must be discussed because of the far-reaching impacts it will have on the sport I love. I realize this is all about “stability,” TV markets and football. It bothers me like nothing else but I accept it. I’m in the minority when it comes to this and the minority holds very little influence in our country. The consequences (both intended and unintended) of realignment for basketball are distressing. The Big East conference, the pre-eminent college basketball league for the last 25 to 30 years, is on life support. The conference I grew up watching, with the best conference tournament of them all, is all but gone. Yes, Connecticut and Louisville are still in the league, but make no mistake, they’ll bolt at the first opportunity they get as we saw this week with Rutgers going to the Big Ten. Once everything shakes out, I find it hard to believe any Big East football program will remain in the league. It simply makes no sense to do so at this point and they’re looking out for themselves in doing so. I don’t blame them. I blame the greedy conference leadership concerned about how many eyeballs the Big Ten Network can draw in New York and New Jersey, the schools who set this in motion (Syracuse and Pittsburgh), and the Big East as a whole for turning down a massive TV deal that could have given the conference a great deal of security. Once the football schools leave, the Big East will be down to seven Catholic basketball-only schools: DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova. As an alumnus and fan of one of those seven schools, this pains me greatly. I could live with Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Notre Dame leaving the league. The real punch to the gut was Syracuse, a Big East founding member, saying it could find long-term stability in the ACC. The final, fatal blow will be Connecticut and/or Louisville bolting, likely in short order. The basketball-only schools have no leverage and must wait and see as everything crashes around them. Hopefully they get together, keep the Big East name and pick up a few other schools like Butler, St. Joe’s and Xavier. That wouldn’t be a bad league and it would get back to the roots of the Big East, basketball and basketball only.

    The Big East Needs to Find Its Roots in Basketball

  2. How does realignment affect other schools and conferences?  For one, the bottom teams in the ACC may stay there for a very long time. With Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame coming in (and possibly Connecticut/Louisville), how will schools like Wake Forest and Boston College compete? There will be a good five or six programs ahead of them each and every year, plus they have to battle it out with the likes of Clemson, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech just to make it into the middle of the pack. It’s a vicious cycle that will keep programs like these as the bottom of their respective conference for many years to come. They always said it was tough to climb up the Big East ladder but now the ACC is effectively the Big East (six of the ACC’s 14 future members, not including Maryland, will be former Big East schools). It’s going to be extraordinarily tough for schools like Boston College to compete in the revamped ACC. Only the strong shall survive in conference realignment, it seems. As for the Big Ten, the impact isn’t as significant. Penn State, Nebraska and Northwestern will always be among the worst programs in the league but the climb to respectability isn’t as difficult. Look at Northwestern. The Wildcats have never made the NCAA Tournament despite knocking on the door in the last few seasons, showing how it isn’t impossible to climb the conference ladder. Now though, the addition of a similarly starved program at Rutgers and a strong program at Maryland makes it more difficult for Northwestern to make a move. It’s uncertain what Rutgers is getting itself into. The Scarlet Knights haven’t made the NCAA Tournament in 22 seasons but have shown signs of progress under Mike Rice. You have to think it can go either way for Rutgers. The new recruiting avenues can help but the school is already situated in the middle of the talent-rich New York City area. That said, road trips to Wisconsin and Michigan State aren’t as simple as heading over to St. John’s or up to Providence. I’d lean towards Rutgers struggling in the Big Ten. Read the rest of this entry »
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Controversial Foul Call Not Purdue’s Only Problem in Rough Start

Posted by KTrahan on November 16th, 2012

The first thing that Purdue fans will likely blame for the Boilermakers’ 89-81 loss Thursday night is a controversial flagrant foul call on D.J. Byrd. The call gave Villanova four straight points, which the Wildcats wouldn’t have been able to get without the call. Whatever you think of the officiating — the call in question was an elbow by Byrd — that wasn’t the only thing that factored into the loss, writes Jeff Washburn of the. Lafayette Journal and Courier.

Matt Painter Would Surely Like to Have the Bucknell and Villanova Games Back

One call doesn’t win or lose a game, and had the Boilermakers been crisper at the finish or been less sluggish at the start, they likely would have won the game. Purdue used a 21-4 second half run to get back into the game, but, as Washburn points out, “rushed some shots, and at times, played like its hair was on fire, as Painter likes to say, meaning that the Boilermakers played at a helter-skelter pace when it was not necessary.” Purdue also shot just 57.1 percent from the free throw line — whereas Villanova shot 80.5 percent — allowing the Wildcats to stay in the game. The loss drops the Boilermakers to 1-2 with the consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic against Oregon State coming up Friday night.

This is a very young Purdue team, so nights like Thursday night figured to happen early in the year. When three freshmen see significant minutes, and one starts and plays 32 minutes, you can expect some inconsistency. This team has a lot of talent, and it will be very good a few years down the road. However, the Boilers have a lot of growing up to do in order to be competitive in the Big Ten this season.

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Big Ten Team Previews: Purdue Boilermakers

Posted by jnowak on November 2nd, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Big Ten microsite will be rolling out the featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Purdue Boilermakers.

Where We Left Off: The last time we saw Purdue, one of the program’s most accomplished players — Robbie Hummel — was riding off into the sunset, marking the end of the “Baby Boiler” era that began when that class began its West Lafayette career in 2007. Purdue also loses fellow co-captains Ryne Smith and Lewis Jackson, leaving Matt Painter without three of the Boilers’ best scoring options from the last few seasons. So the cupboard is relatively bare, with a lot resting on the shoulders of senior D.J. Byrd and the Johnson Trio — Terone, Ronnie and Anthony. None of those four have much experience in leading the team, so scoring could be at a premium. It’s safe to call it a rebuilding year for the Boilermakers, but if they can build on the foundation the Baby Boilers set forth, Painter could have this team back contending soon enough.

With Robbie Hummel and Lewis Jackson gone, much of the scoring and leadership responsibility will rest on D.J. Byrd’s shoulders at Purdue.

Positives: After a pretty significant drop-off in recruiting since the stellar class of Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, Scott Martin (who eventually transferred) and E’Twaun Moore, Painter seems to finally have gotten it back with this incoming freshman class. Rivals has this group ranked No. 20 in the country, which also places the Boilermakers fourth in the Big Ten (Indiana clocks in at No. 5, Michigan at No. 7, Michigan State at No. 13). None of the newcomers — A.J. Hammons, Ronnie Johnson, Raphael Davis and Jay Simpson — were ranked higher than No. 77 (Hammons), but it’s a solid core and a diverse group, with each player listed by Rivals at a different position. All four should get significant playing time this season, giving Purdue fans a glimpse at what could be a very promising future.

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Big Ten M5: 10.18.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 18th, 2012

  1. The first official preseason polls are out and there are three total B1G teams in the top five positions of the USA Today Coaches Poll – Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan. It should come as no surprise that Indiana has been voted #1 after all of the hype surrounding the Hoosiers during the offseason. It might be a little surprising, however, to see the Buckeyes ranked one spot higher than Michigan at #4. Both OSU and the Wolverines return three key starters, so the overall ranking is well deserved to begin the season.
  2. Another update on the Jabari Parker sweepstakes – he will not be committing during the early signing period and probably will wait until December to announce his decision. Parker is scheduled to visit Michigan State this weekend and will visit his other top choices – Duke, Florida, Stanford and BYU – over the next few weeks through mid-November. Tom Izzo has been recruiting Parker for a couple of years now and will get a chance to convince him further in East Lansing in a few days. It will be very surprising if Parker stays more than one season in the college game but that might just be enough for him to make a difference at one of the five programs.
  3. College hoops icon Dick Vitale is just getting warmed up around this time of the year. He announced his preseason “All-Solid Gold Team,” which is essentially his list of best players for the season and it includes several players from the Big Ten. Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Michigan’s Trey Burke are on the first team followed by Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas on the second team. Seniors Trevor Mbakwe and Brandon Paul made it onto the fourth team which may be considered a bit of a surprise but is not a complete shocker considering their scoring averages from their last season – 14.0 PPG and 14.7 PPG, respectively. Mbakwe didn’t play a full season last year due to an injury, though. Junior guard Aaron Craft was also on his list despite averaging only 8.6 PPG last season but he is arguably the best on-ball defender in the country.
  4. Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has played a prominent role in Madison, both on and off the court. His record as a coach speaks for itself as he led the Badgers to several consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances over the years. Off the court, he is actively involved in the community and his most recent event is a “charity stripe” challenge to encourage the students to participate in raising money for cancer research as part of the “Coaches vs. Cancer” challenge. The event will be held at the Kohl Center on October 25 and $1 will be donated for every student in attendance. Ryan’s Badgers are ranked #21 in the USA Today preseason poll that was released yesterday. Despite losing Jordan Taylor who was an All-American guard last season, other Badgers are expected to step up, specifically freshman phenom Sam Dekker and point guard George Marshall.
  5. After three official practices, Purdue head coach Matt Painter is very impressed with his newcomers on the squad. Returning wing DJ Byrd has been very satisfied with freshman A.J. Hammons during practice and praised his work ethic to improve his conditioning during the offseason. Painter thinks that the team is meshing well together and credited the four exhibition games on the European tour in August as one of the main reasons. The non-conference schedule is extremely important for the Boilers because they need several new faces to understand their roles on the team. Hammons is expected to be one of the primary options in the frontcourt along with sophomore forward Jacob Lawson who averaged 11 MPG last season. Redshirt wing Donnie Hale is also expected to contribute on the offensive end in addition to returning guard Terone Johnson (9.2 PPG) who will certainly be the primary scorer for Painter.
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 08.20.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on August 20th, 2012

  1. Do you want the good news or the bad news first, Indiana fans? The good news is that a solution has presented itself for the problem Tom Crean was going to have this fall with 14 players trying to fill out 13 scholarships by the first day of classes. The bad news is that means incoming freshman Ron Patterson‘s ineligibility is what led to that solution. According to the Indianapolis Star, the local product — a three-star recruit out of nearby Indianapolis – did not meet the academic requirements to earn admission. According to the Star‘s report, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound shooting guard will consider attending prep school or a different four-year school. He will have immediate eligibility wherever he goes since his letter of intent has been voided. Still, though, the Hoosiers have the top recruiting class in the Big Ten and one of the best nationally — to go along with a likely preseason No. 1 distinction.
  2. Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis is at it again with his big ideas and, this time, he’s got more than just the Spartans involved. Hollis is the brainchild of yet another large-scale event, with plans to include 16 elite basketball programs — including Big Ten squads Michigan State and Ohio State — in a blockbuster event (broken into a pair of eight-team tournaments) for November 2017 in Portland, Oregon, celebrating the 80th birthday of Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Given the list of schools involved, this could be better than most NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteens. It should be an exceptionally tough ticket, but a real treat for hoops fans five years from now.
  3. According to the Gazette columnist Mike Hlas, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery has been telling reporters he intends to schedule tougher non-conference foes when the program is ready for it. Now, evidently, is not that time. As Hlas points out, the Hawkeyes have three teams on the 2012-13 slate from the MEAC, the 30th-strongest conference of 32, according to the Sagarin Ratings from last year. And if Iowa plays Wichita State instead of DePaul in Cancun, the cumulative 2011-12 record of the Hawkeyes’ non-conference opponents will be 181-234 (88-124 in their respective conferences). If it is DePaul, those records drop to 166-247 and 75-137, respectively. Those figures certainly won’t help Iowa’s strength of schedule. But if they can’t beat those squads, something will really be amiss.
  4. Fans in Michigan are passionately divided between Michigan and Michigan State allegiances, but with both teams now excelling, it’s a great time to be a basketball fan in the Mitten State. And how about this projection for an NCAA Tournament first-round site? The Spartans and Wolverines are both slotted by ESPN.com‘s Joe Lunardi in a very early version of Bracketology as No. 2 seeds playing at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit. You’re not likely to get Michigan and Michigan State fans also cheering for their rivals in those games, but it would be one heck of an atmosphere at the Palace. Lunardi has seven Big Ten teams in the dance, including Indiana (No. 1 seed), Ohio State (No. 4 seed), Minnesota (No. 7 seed), Wisconsin (No. 3 seed) and Purdue (No. 12 seed).
  5. Purdue is taking the early stages of its non-conference schedule way out of the conference. Way out of the country, even. The Boilermakers just wrapped up a 3-1 exhibition tour in Italy, capping the trip off with a 108-72 victory against Amici del Campetto. It’s given coach Matt Painter an early opportunity to see what he’ll be working with this season, with many new faces expected to be in the mix. The Boilermakers’ only loss on the trip was to a professional team from Lithuania. D.J. Byrd, one of the few returning contributors, was 5-for-7 from 3-point range for 16 points in the latest victory.
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Four Game Recaps: Big Ten Tournament First Round

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on March 9th, 2012

Here’s a breakdown on how things went down in the Big Ten tournament’s first day of action:

Matt Gatens led Iowa to a big win over Illinois (Andy Lyons, Getty Images)

Iowa 64 – Illinois 61

The skinny: It’s been a tough season for Illini fans, and now (some would say thankfully) it is over. Myers Leonard was a force down low for Illinois, scoring 18 points and grabbing six boards, but Brandon Paul struggled his way to four points on 2-11 shooting. Meanwhile, Matt Gatens continued his solid senior season with 20 points to lead the Hawkeyes, but it was his defense on Paul that really was the difference in this contest for Iowa. Head coach Fran McCaffery complained earlier this week about Gatens not being included on the all-Big Ten defensive team, and the senior looked every bit an elite-level stopper in this match-up. All-Big Ten freshman Aaron White had 13 points and 9 rebounds including a key offensive board with about 40 seconds left after a missed free throw by Roy Devyn Marble that helped seal the game for Iowa.

Up next: The #8-seed Hawkeyes will face #1-seed Michigan State at noon today. Iowa only played the Spartans once this season, falling 95-61 in a game at East Lansing on January 10.

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Morning Five: 02.20.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 20th, 2012

  1. Western Kentucky announced yesterday that its new head coach was its current head coach. Despite starting his career at 4-7 since taking over for Ken McDonald, the school has opted to retain the services of Ray Harper. Citing the difficult circumstances that Harper inherited with taking over the team in early January, the school claimed it had “total confidence his ability to return our program to prominence”. Based on his record at the Division II level where he was named national coach of the year four times in nine season while winning two national titles and claiming four runner-up finishes (one was later vacated) the Hilltoppers might be moving in the right direction very soon.
  2. Critics of the NCAA will have one less thing to rail against at schools opposing the previously accepted proposal allowing schools to award mulityear scholarships failed to reach the veto threshold. When the rule was passed in August 2011 it was hailed as a small, but important concession for athletes, whose scholarships and academic/career goals can swing with a coaching change or an injury. However, a few months later, a large number of schools petitioned the NCAA asking for a repeal of the rule leading to Friday’s vote. Needing 62.5% (more than 206) of the 330 institutions to vote against it for a repeal, the schools were only able to get 62.12% (205 votes) so when the NCAA parades around its new multiyear scholarships remember that it was two votes away from having it repealed and not everybody voted (the NCAA would only say more than 90% voted).
  3. There are a lot of way to have your bubble burst and Purdue appears to have taken the most publicly embarrassing one. On Friday, the team suspended starting point guard D.J. Byrd and dismissed starting guard Kelsey Barlow following an incident that morning where Byrd was arrested for public intoxication while Barlow, who had been thrown out of the bar earlier that night apparently came back with several teammates including Robbie Hummel where Barlow reported hit a bouncer and was arrested. Even though they are still technically in contention for a NCAA Tournament bid with every other team bubble team falling apart this seriously damages their chances of making any kind of run.
  4. It will be an eventful few days for several members of the 1988-89 North Carolina State team. On Saturday, in one of the more bizarre interactions between an official and the crowd that we have seen, veteran official had Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta removed from the stands in a game between NC State and Florida State even though they did not appear to do anything that you typically see fans get ejected for and afterwards did not offer any explanation for his actions. Yesterday, the school announced that tomorrow it would honor that Wolfpack team that Corchiani and Gugliotta were on in a tribute to the team before Tuesday’s game against North Carolina as part of its inaugural “Wolfpack Unlimited” award that honors the spirit of Jim Valvano. According to Debbie Yow, the school’s Athletic Director, the 1988-89 team was up for consideration before Saturday’s events although she did not specify how those events impacted her choice.
  5. “A season with few bright lights grew even dimmer Friday.” That opening sentence from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sums up our thoughts on Georgia Tech dismissing Glen Rice Jr. from its team. Normally, the loss of a player who leads your team in scoring, rebounds, and steals is crippling, but when you had already lost 12 of your last 14 you cannot get much worse. This suspension is Rice’s second of the season as he was also suspended for three games earlier this year for violating unspecified team rules and while the school would not go into detail about what led to the dismissal they did say that it was not basketball-related. Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets their last four games are against four of the teams they are competing against to stay out of the ACC’s cellar. With three of those games at home perhaps they can avoid finishing dead last in the conference.
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Big Ten Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 10th, 2011

John Templon is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten. With action set to tip from Indianapolis on Thursday, get set for the postseason with RTC’s regular season wrap-up and postseason outlook.

Postseason Preview

The Big Ten Tournament should prove to be quite the entertaining tournament. With so many teams on the bubble, every game is going to have a do-or-die atmosphere to it. Three of the four quarterfinal games, excluding the one in which Ohio State is playing, could propel teams to NCAA Tournament at-large bids. Another important matchup to watch is Northwestern vs. Minnesota in Round 1 – where they’ll probably be playing for an NIT berth.

  • Cold Teams: Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana
  • Is Battle Ready For last Stand?: The Nittany Lions’ Talor Battle will try to finally make the NCAA Tournament. Can he shoot Penn State off the bubble and into the field?
  • Is Nolen Healthy?: Al Nolen hasn’t played January 22 against Michigan, but he could return this week. Would it be enough to get the Gophers rolling?
  • Can Anyone Stop Ohio State?: The Buckeyes look like a juggernaut, and this isn’t the time to be putting big decisions in the hands of the selection committee. In order to feel comfortable about its #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, OSU probably needs to win the Big Ten’s first. Northwestern played them close at Welsh-Ryan Arena – is a big upset in the making?
  • Will Izzo’s Tournament Touch Get Going?: Of the teams playing in the first round, Michigan State seems like the most likely candidate to reach the tournament finals. It seems like Tom Izzo just has a knack for this kind of thing by now.
  • Is The Next Generation Ready?: There are nine seniors on the three All-Big Ten teams selected by the coaches, and just one freshman. Are players like Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, Illinois’ Jereme Richmond, Northwestern’s JerShon Cobb and Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. ready to play significant crunch time roles? Or will they wilt under the bright lights in Indianapolis?

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